Dominican Sisters Thrift Store, a fixture on Front Street in Greenport for 19 years, closed its doors earlier this month.
The shop, run entirely by volunteers, sold donations from the community to earn money for ArchCare, formerly Dominican Sisters Family Health Services. ArchCare, which provides at-home health care, assumed sponsorship of the home care ministry from the Dominican Sisters in August 2016.
“I’m just sorry for those people who can’t use it anymore,” said volunteer Teresa Taylor of Greenport. Ms. Taylor has been a volunteer for about seven months. “Some people can’t afford what would normally be available at Tanger mall, or other stores.”
Ms. Taylor said the closure felt sudden, because at first the volunteers were told they had until the end of the month, but it was closed by July 14. The Greenport shop had about 20 volunteers and was run seasonally until six years ago, when it opened year round.
“It wasn’t the announcement that was sudden,” spokesman Jon Goldberg explained. “The shops did close sooner than expected, because unfortunately someone affiliated with the shops began sharing information that was misleading, so ArchCare simply made the decision to shut down the shops early. We know that was a disappointment.”
Dominican Sisters Thrift Shops were also closed in Hampton Bays and Sag Harbor at the same time. The merchandise and fixtures will be donated to other local nonprofits to benefit families in need, according to a letter written by Marianne Bogannam, vice president of development for ArchCare, in explaining their decision. In the letter, she thanked volunteers for their years of service and urged customers to continue to support ArchCare in other capacities.
“Operating the thrift shops was creating a financial drain on the ministries,” Mr. Goldberg said. “We decided the most appropriate course of action was to close the shops and redirect those funds to doing what they do, which is providing care to those who need it. It freed up additional monies to focus on those who need it.”
Bernie Kettenbeil of Greenport, a volunteer for three years, said the volunteers began crying when they found out the shop was closing.
“The community needs to know that we didn’t just decide ‘screw you,’ ” she said.
The thrift shops sold any donations that people provided, including a few antiques and designer labels, but mainly provided more affordable options to those who couldn’t pay full price. There’s another thrift shop in Greenport called the Opportunity Shop that is owned by Eastern Long Island Hospital.
“We had a bunch of regular customers who came who would spend money on us,” Ms. Kettenbeil said. “On the flip side, there is a lot of poverty on the North Fork, people living one paycheck at a time. We managed to give money to Dominicans every month, even in the winter when we weren’t doing great.”
Mr. Goldberg said that ArchCare could not justify keeping the shops open.
“Honestly, we know people are disappointed and the shops were fixtures in the community,” he said. “Given all that’s happening in health care today, losing money of any amount from operating a thrift shop is not responsible. We’re making sure that every ounce of funding is used for people who need it.”
Photo: The Dominican Sisters Thrift Store in Greenport closed for good after ArchCare decided it was no longer profitable to keep it open. (Credit: Rachel Siford)